Muscat: Thousands of Asian expatriate workers, mainly from India, went on strike at the Muscat International Airport expansion project site on Monday night, following the death of one of their colleagues.
According to sources, the majority of the 10,000 workers, mostly Indians, at the project site boycotted work.
"At approximately 7pm on Monday, one of our Indian workers was run over by a bus and sustained fatal injuries. Bechtel ENKA Bahwan (BEB) suspended work on Tuesday out of respect for the deceased employee, which is customary in Indian culture. Work will resume on Wednesday at the commencement of the day shift. An investigation is being conducted by the company and the local authorities.
"The health and safety of our workforce is something we take very seriously, and we are cooperating fully with the investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the worker's family and friends at this difficult time," noted a statement emailed to Times of Oman by BEB consortium.
According to sources, the worker from the South-Indian state of Tamil Nadu, who was run over by a bus in the western part of the airport project, has been identified as Murukesan Palani.
"Palani boarded the bus after finishing his shift at around 7p.m. Since the bus was overcrowded, some of them, including Palani, were asked to step down. While he was getting off the bus, the driver reportedly accelerated the bus, and Palani lost his balance and fell down. The bus ran over him," sources from the airport project confided.
Immediately thereafter, the company officials rushed Palani to the hospital, but their efforts to revive him went in vain.
"We heard that he died on the spot," sources stated, adding that Palani was supposed to travel to India in two weeks for his daughter's wedding.
Following the accident, the irate workers went on strike, demanding better safety measures and decent compensation from the company.
"The safety measures are also not up to the mark. Several minor accidents have happened before," the sources noted.
They remarked that national workers and other Arab workers had reportedly left the camp, fearing trouble. "The strikes during 2012 were violent, so most of the Arabs have left the camp to avoid trouble," sources confirmed.
Officials at the Indian embassy told Times of Oman that they had directed the company officials to complete the necessary paperwork to repatriate the deceased's body.
"When they contacted us yesterday, we advised them to finish the paperwork as soon as possible to repatriate the body. They have assured us they will bring it [to us] on Wednesday. As soon as the papers are ready, we will be able to send the body back," an embassy official added.